Microsoft hopes to double the number of Windows smartphones being sold this year, from 6 million at the end of 2005 to nearly 12 million phones by the end of this year. Additionally, Microsoft hopes to keep up with this rate of growth in coming years.
Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices division head Peter Knook said that the number of devices operating on Windows Mobile doubled to 6 million last year, adding that they'd like to shoot for another 100 percent increase this time around. While goals of continually doubling numbers seem lofty, analyst firm Gartner said that the smartphone and PDA market expanded by 57 percent worldwide in the first half of this year, with an expected increase of 66 percent for smartphones over the entire year. Both Microsoft and RIM—who have about 6 million users each—are competing against Nokia, which currently comprises about half of the global smartphone market.
It's possible that Microsoft could come close to doubling its numbers again this year just by the mere increase in overall smartphone sales, but in order to make strides against its competitors, Microsoft will have to start offering more incentive for users to switch over to a Windows Mobile phone. One option, according to Knook, is for Windows Mobile smartphones to connect to Microsoft's Xbox Live service, Live Anywhere, allowing users to message friends on their friends lists and download mobile gaming content.
Push e-mail, as RIM has learned, has turned into big business, making smartphones into the pager of the 21st century. Microsoft has just gotten into the game, but has some ideas for ways to make Windows Mobile appeal to smartphone users—tight software integration. Microsoft, unlike some of its competitors, is gearing up to make money on all sides of the smartphone experience—Vista's built-in Mobile Sync Center syncing data from the phone with Microsoft Exchange being one of them. There is even potential for the Zune to start syncing game data from the Xbox 360 and Vista, which would then sync with a Windows Mobile smartphone. There is a lot of money tied into smartphone sales for Microsoft, and they're just dying to see how many of their products can be integrated into the smartphone user experience.